A good night’s rest is essential for effective thinking and learning. Lack of sleep can hurt these cognitive processes by impairing alertness, attention, concentration, reasoning and problem solving. These are all things we need to get through our day with ease. In addition, not getting enough sleep is a huge safety hazard on our roadways. Being drowsy when behind the wheel can slow your reaction time down to the same levels as drinking and driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S. The problem is greatest among people under 25 years old.
Here are my top 10 tips to help get your beauty rest:
1. Keep a consistent schedule.
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekends. Consistency is important here. Set a regular bedtime each night. Make it a time when you're normally tired anyway. Then wake up at the same time. If you're getting enough sleep, you should wake up without an alarm. I know most of us have to use an alarm, hit snooze and drag ourselves out of bed each morning. With the proper schedule, this will eliminate the dreaded alarm clock.
2. Take a nap if needed.
If your body needs to make up for lost sleep, naps are perfectly fine. Taking a daytime nap is better than sleeping late, especially on a weekend. Make sure to nap early in the afternoon and try to make it no longer than 30 minutes so it doesn’t disrupt your bedtime routine.
3. Increase your light exposure during the day.
Try to spend more time outside during the daytime. Take a break from work and go outside for a nice walk when the weather permits. Let as much natural light as possible into your home or office during the day.
4. Naturally boost your melatonin at night.
Turn off all electronics before you go to bed. Many people fall asleep to the TV but this is a mistake. The light suppresses your natural melatonin production and the TV can actually stimulate you rather than calm you down. This is the same when you get in bed and search Facebook or Pinterest on your phone. Instead, try listening to soothing music or a meditation CD or app on your phone. Make sure you room is dark and relaxing.
5. Make your bedroom more inviting and calming.
Keep the noise down in your room. If you live in a busy area where there is always noise outside, try using a fan or white noise to drown it out. Keep your room cool as well. Being too hot, or too cold, can affect the quality of sleep you get each night. Also, make sure your bed is comfortable. I know I have to have my sheets tucked in just right before I get in bed. My husband couldn't care less about having the sheets in the proper place but he knows it's essential for me to be comfortable. Find what works best for you, as we're all a bit different.
6. Eat dinner earlier in the evening.
I know some families don’t eat until 9 p.m. or even later. You should be eating about four hours before bedtime to ensure proper digestion before you hit the hay. If you have a fatty dinner, then get in bed, you could get heartburn or a slight stomachache, as a heavy dinner takes a lot of work for your stomach to digest.
7. Cut down on the caffeine.
If you are drinking coffee or soda in the afternoon, it's going to be much harder to get to bed at your chosen time. Try to cut out all caffeine by noon each day and stick with water and herbal decaffeinated tea the rest of the day to ensure a good night’s rest.
8. Get movement into your day.
Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day. You don’t have to go to the gym and pump iron to get the effects. You can take a walk with your dog or do yoga poses at home and still get the benefits.
9. Relaxation and deep breathing.
If you find yourself lying in bed but unable to sleep, try taking deep breaths to clear your mind and relax your body. I love to relax my entire body by starting at my feet. You tighten the muscles for a few seconds then release. Do this all the way up to your head and you will be amazed at how relaxed you feel when completed. This is called Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
10. Don’t stress about sleep.
Focusing on the time and calculating how many hours until the alarm goes off doesn’t help things. I know, because I'm guilty of this, especially when I have an early flight to catch. Try to make relaxation your goal, not sleep. Work to clear your mind, and if you find you're worrying, or having anxiety about the following day, write it down in a notebook next to your bed and allow yourself to put those thoughts at rest. This ritual can greatly reduce the racing thoughts that go through our heads when we finally let our bodies relax.
You owe it to your body to take care of it and sleep is a huge part of self-care. We put gas in our car when it's empty and we charge our cellphones when the battery is low, so it only makes sense that we take care of ourselves and get the proper rest we need to function at our best capacity.
I know there are so many people that truly want to get healthy
but don’t know where to start. Then there are those that know what is good for them and what isn’t, but they still choose the unhealthy route. I see it in my health coaching practice.
Someone pays for my services because they want to feel their best. We start by making small changes that will last over time. It is truly a blessing when I see real results. But it is frustrating when others complain about not being healthy, eating and drinking too much and not taking time for themselves to actually accomplish anything.
To these people, I say “get out of your own way!”
Here are 8 steps to guide you on your path to health, IF you are truly ready:
1. Put yourself first. Your health should be one of your top priorities. If your car runs low on gas, you fill it up. You put air in the tires and change the oil every three months. Some people actually take better care of their vehicles than themselves. It is time to put yourself first and make the effort to gain better health. No one is going to do this for you.
2. Stop making excuses. We can make enough excuses to talk ourselves out of almost anything. Trust me, I did this for years thinking "oh I will start eating better tomorrow..." If you eat bad in the morning, that doesn't mean you have to eat bad the rest of the day. I know how it is when you are hungry and there is a drive-thru on the corner. But we all know that is the worst choice when it comes to food. Instead of driving thru a fast food restaurant, find somewhere that you can get a healthy salad with grilled chicken instead. I hear people say they don’t have the time for eating healthy, exercising or anything else that is good for them. But they do! You just have to stop making excuses and get real with yourself as to why you are choosing unhealthy options. Once you admit this, then you can figure out how to make room for health in your life.
3. Use what you have paid for. I know people that purchase great, healthy recipe books and never look past the cover. Dust it off and seek out something new. How many exercise DVD’s have you purchased that never made it out of the plastic wrapper? I personally just donated a pregnancy DVD (brand new) and my daughter is almost 12. I had high hopes of using it, but just never scheduled the time. And how many people have their purses and coats hung over the treadmill bars? Clean it up and jump on!
What about the gym membership you signed up for last January and went a few times? If you have already invested the money, put it to use.
4. Grocery shop. This is one simple thing you can do but is very hard for some people. I used to get intimidated and flustered at the store trying to figure out what to buy. It took a few trips with a list and now I can get in and out in less than 30 minutes. I personally go at least twice a week so I always have fresh fruits and vegetables. Making the time to shop for healthy food means when you are hungry, you have good options already at the house. There is no need to go out for dinner.
5. Plan your menu. When you first start your path to eating healthy, planning out your meals is essential to being
successful. You will only do this for a few weeks until you figure out what you like and what you will actually cook and eat. Then it becomes so easy to grocery shop as you already know how to feed your family since you planned it out and stuck to it for a few weeks.
6. Don’t say, “Oh I could never live without…” This could be bread, milk, beef, nuts… the list goes on to what I have heard. Be open to trying new foods and making healthier substitutions. You really can survive without macaroni and cheese from a box, I promise! By saying you could never live without a certain food automatically shuts your brain off to being open to new and delicious alternatives.
7. Schedule exercise or movement into your week. We schedule conference calls, meetings, dentist appointments and the list goes on. But most people don’t actually schedule exercise into their life. This means you are less likely to get active. Block out 30 minutes of your day and take a walk. Or check
the schedule at your gym and put a yoga class into your planner. By doing this in advance, you are more likely to stick to a routine. Find something that you like and that motivates you to get moving. It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, just get out there and get your heart rate up!
8. Get creative. Do you have a stack of journals that you haven’t opened or art supplies that haven’t been touched? Get them out and get your creative juices flowing. This is something that is great for your health. It is calming and relaxing while allowing your brain to focus on something besides work, chores, kids, etc. And if you think you aren’t creative, that just isn’t true. We all have creativity inside of us that just hasn’t had the opportunity to come out.
Often, we are our own worst enemy when it comes to our health
We know we should do things differently, but just don’t make it a priority. Get out of your own way, stop making excuses and schedule health into your life. If you find there are obstacles, identify them and work to overcome them. Start with small changes if you want to see lasting results. If you change everything in one day, you will most likely set yourself up for failure. Take it one step at a time…your body will thank you for it.
If you need help making changes in your life, please check out my Winter Clean Eating Program HERE!
Tonight while at yoga we were chatting before class started. One of the women mentioned a yoga class downtown that is all in the nude...yep, the birthday suit. I was pretty shocked, obviously, at first. Then my mind began to wander about all the different poses and doing them naked. First I was thinking Downward Dog...yikes, the person behind you would definitely see what you had for lunch. Then Half Moon Pose came into my mind. Then Child's Pose, Triangle, Warrior 3....This is where I had to stop my mind and think of spiders. Make it go away...make it go away!!!
So this made me wonder what kind of element that all this nakedness adds to your yoga practice. So of course, I had to Google it.
Tip for You: I don't recommend searching this on your computer at work...you will most likely get walked out the door immediately. But I went there... and let me tell you, there is A LOT of information, videos, pictures, etc to peruse if you are into this sort of thing.
After a few deep breaths and trying to un-see some of things I just saw, I found a page that actually hosts naked yoga retreats. Looks to be for men only. I stumbled upon their Q&A page and here is what I found as to the "why" of doing yoga in the nude: "We love doing yoga naked because it offers both freedom of movement and freedom within. Clothes bind, especially during yoga. They become uncomfortable, sweaty, and downright unpleasant. We take the clothes out of the equation! After removing our clothes, we are left with something pure, something that is natural. We champion acceptance of oneself and others. We become balanced."
While this all sounds great, I actually like my yoga clothes and don't find them unpleasant at all. As a matter of fact, I sometimes wear my yoga pants all darn day. That speaks huge volumes to the comfort level I have in them. And nothing that I wear "binds" either. I wear a supportive sports bra and some sort of cute tank top. I feel quite nice in it, especially now that it is getting colder. I also leave each class feeling incredibly balanced and feel great acceptance toward myself.
But hey, who am I to judge? I bet you really get to know people on a much deeper and spiritual level when sharing a practice with them in the buff. I say go for it if you are into all that.
For me, I will stick with my comfy yoga gear and keep my clothes in "the equation."
Parting note: I didn't include a picture with this blog post. I am sure you are most likely okay with that!
I have recently started going to yoga at least 5, if not more, times per week. I have dabbled with it in years past and enjoyed the stretching and the balancing poses. But it wasn't until I started going faithfully each week that I have truly found why people love it. It took me a while to "get it" and I finally feel that I am doing just that. I struggle on a daily basis with maintaining my anxiety. It is something that is a constant battle for me as I have a thousand things running through my head at any given time. Yoga is the one hour of my day that I block all that out and truly just focus on my breathing. And it has made amazing changes in my life. If I miss a day, I can tell in my mood and my body. Never have I felt that way about running or going to a gym!
For me, practicing yoga is very spiritual as well as relaxing. I love going to the harder classes to challenge myself. It's a great feeling when I can stretch a little farther or hold a pose a little longer than I could the day before. I also feel like I am at least an inch taller when I leave. For real, I think I grow in there!
I can feel the changes in myself and the way that I handle situations. I am now much calmer and more relaxed about things. When I get home, I literally feel happier and healthier. And I am sure I am much more pleasant to be around.
I used to look at the last few minutes of class as a quick little nap, but now I see that time as so much more. It is weird how it just changes you. Tonight, for example, a big storm blew in at the end of class and it was so incredibly peaceful to be in a room with the sound of heavy rain and lightning. I wasn't worried about getting wet or driving home, I just enjoyed the sounds of nature.
But there is one thing that bothered me and I'm not sure I should have been irritated but I will let you tell me your thoughts. A couple days ago I was at a class that was packed. We all had a decent amount of space, but not near as much as normal. I ended up near the shelves that hold the blankets and bolsters which was totally fine with me. I like being closer to a wall in case I lose my balance I can just grab the wall! Anyways, TWO different women stepped ON my yoga mat while making their way over to the shelves. Not one, but two! For some reason, I just found this a bit rude. I mean, this is my mat...my sacred space for one hour. All mine, no sharing with anyone. And they just stepped right on it when they could have very easily gone around. Am I wrong for getting a little grossed out by their bare feet on my sacred mat? Of course, I didn't say anything but it did throw me off for a bit.
But with a few deep breaths, I was able to get over it quickly. And once I got home, I quickly cleaned my mat to get off any germs.
If you have not tried yoga, I highly recommend it. It has made amazing changes in my life and I know it could in yours as well. And if there are any single guys out there, yoga is the place to find cute girls!
I wrote a quick "5 Things" for my daughter's middle school PTA newsletter and thought I would share it here as well. I might add, we are not perfect over here. Now in our 4th week of school we are finally getting the routine down and I have only had to make one trip up to school with a forgotten item. Which technically should have been avoided but I gave in to my daughter's argument that it was "just fine" to wear flip flops to school. No sooner had I dropped her off when my phone rings with her asking me to bring "closed-toe shoes" because it is required in her science class. Don't you wish our kids would just trust us sometimes???
Anyways, now onto the quick 5 things you can do to have healthy, happy kiddos:
Now that school is back in full swing, we have all hopefully settled into our new routines. This abrupt change in schedule from the relaxed weeks of summer can be stressful for the entire family and put kids at risk for getting sick. Starting a fresh year is a great time to implement healthier habits for our kids. Here are 5 things we can do as parents to keep our kids healthy and happy:
1. Plenty of sleep: For kids 12-18 years old, it is recommended they get at least 8-9 hours of sleep each night. Establish a nighttime routine and try to have lights out by 9 or 10pm to ensure they are well rested for the school day.
2. Healthy breakfast: When we sleep too late and rush out the door, it causes our kids to have anxiety and stress before getting into the classroom. Get up a bit earlier to make sure there is time for them to sit down and enjoy a healthy breakfast. Some suggested ideas are: Coconut yogurt with granola and fresh berries, apple slices with nut butter and toast, green smoothie, or even a burrito with black beans, eggs and salsa. Try to keep away from anything packaged as they are filled with preservatives and sugar.
3. Stay active: This is very important for the middle school years as our kids are developing habits they will take into high school and their adult years. Make sure as parents we are encouraging them to be involved in sports that interest them or even taking a family bike ride. If your child shows interest in something, do your best to allow them to explore new things. Team sports are a great way to stay active as well as meet new friends in the community.
4. Lay off the caffeine: Our children should not need caffeine to get through their days. Always make water the easiest and fastest drink for them when thirsty. Many kids are mildly dehydrated every day because they are consuming way more sugary drinks than water. Set the example as a parent and drink your share of water as well. If possible, don’t have
sodas and sugary juices at home. Save these as a treat when you go out or on the weekend.
5. Stay organized: I know this is difficult to do, but it takes the anxiety and stress off of everyone in the busy mornings. Have your student pick out their clothes and pack their backpacks the night before. Establishing this healthy routine will set our children up for success as adults by planning ahead. It will also mean less trips by parents to the school dropping off forgotten items.
Here’s to a great, healthy new school year!
I have been going to yoga and occasionally Zumba over the past year but my place just closed down. This left me wondering what to do now. If left up to me to do on my own, I will not work out. I just don't have the personal motivation to get out there and plan my own exercise routine. Plus, I live in Texas where the thought of going jogging outside makes me sweat before I even tie up my sneakers. So for now, I need a structured class to encourage me and to make sure I follow through.
I have been wondering if I should just join my local rec center again where there is a decent work-out room or check out one of the fancy 24 hour fitness clubs that are on every street corner these days. But I get very overwhelmed and intimidated at big gyms. I feel like I am not "beefy" enough to mix it up with the guys that grunt and sweat all over everything. In these settings I usually jump on the treadmill for a bit then meander around and end up leaving before I really do anything beneficial.
So this morning, very early, my husband and I tried our first CrossFit class. Wow, it was great and hard all at the same time. I actually didn't finish the WOD (that's Workout of the Day in CF lingo) but left feeling like it was something that would be a good fit for us. I am pretty sure we are going to make the leap and join the club! This is a place where you make friends and are held accountable as well as get really fit. I was so nervous going up there today thinking that I would embarrass myself by not being as in shape as the others. But it was quite the opposite. I was okay doing my own thing and taking longer to complete the workout than the more experienced members. I didn't feel like it was a competition to see who can beat each other. It was more a competition with myself to see how much I can do. And that felt great!
My mission as a Certified Health Coach is to make the world a happier, healthier place, one person, one meal at a time, with love and gratitude. I work to inspire others to live a life of prevention and overall wellness!